fresh voices from the front lines of change







The peaceful transition of power from one elected president to the next under the rule of law is a sacred hallmark of our Republic.

None can deny that Donald Trump is the legally chosen president-elect.

But that does not necessarily mean, as some in the media and the establishment Democratic and Republican parties would have it, that we who oppose Trump and most of what he stands for have any duty of loyalty to the man or his policies.

Quite the contrary. Those of us who believe in social and racial justice, greater income equality, and the compelling need to combat climate change, among other things, have a duty to use all of the tools of an awakened citizenry to block Trump from taking us backwards and to lay the basis for future progress, including in Congress, the media, the arts, the courts, electoral politics, and, if it comes to it, through widespread peaceful civil disobedience.

There’s no automatic right of an incoming president to a “honeymoon” to see if he’ll behave differently as president than he did as a candidate. As Maya Angelou famously said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Over nearly 40 years in the public spotlight, Donald Trump has shown himself to be a narcissistic, bullying, misogynistic, racist con man. It would be the height of naiveté to think that he’ll suddenly change at 70 years old or that any public hints at change are anything but a head fake to disarm the opposition.

Remember, Republicans didn’t see fit to give President Obama a honeymoon. The very night of his inauguration, Mitch McConnell was meeting with Republican congressional leaders to plot a strategy aimed at insuring that Barack Obama would be a one-term president. For nearly eight years, congressional Republicans have used every tool in their toolbox to impede and obstruct President Obama’s agenda. Congressional Democrats should be prepared to do the same to President Trump.

I applaud the tens of thousands of citizens who’ve taken to the streets in dozens of American cities during the past several days to protest what Trump stands for. I implore them to maintain nonviolent discipline, as violence will only make it easier for Trump to crack down on civil liberties. These are probably only the beginning of mass street demonstrations which are likely to escalate and grow during Trump’s presidency.

But spontaneous street demonstration can only go so far. What’s needed are permanent mass progressive organizations on a national, state and local level. Historically, progressive organizations have been fragmented and somewhat marginal. The Sanders campaign showed the potential for an exponentially new level of progressive organizations. Among most hopeful are Peoples Action, Black Lives Matters, and Our Revolution, the offshoot of the Sanders campaign. These organizations need to expand and work in unison.

Hopefully organizers from these groups are already circulating among the street demonstrators collecting names and email addresses for follow-up. These organizations need an inside/outside strategy, electing bold progressives at every level of government from dog catcher to city council, to mayor, to state legislatures, to Congress; while also engaging in mass issue movements and organizing street demonstrations.

They also need to take over and transform the Democratic Party from the hacks and corporatists who anointed the least electable Democrat, Hillary Clinton, as their nominee, and are partly responsible for giving us Donald Trump.

I’ve been quiet about Clinton and her crowd during the general election campaign, not wanting to give any aid and comfort to the Trump forces. But Clinton ran a disastrous campaign. She mistakenly thought she could win just by disqualifying Trump as commander-in-chief rather than emphasizing a substantive message of how she would make the lives of working class and middle class people better. Instead, Clinton’s soft corruption in the form of her paid Wall Street speeches, selling of access to corrupt foreign governments and business people through the Clinton Foundation, and her idiotic penchant for secrecy that led her to use an unauthorized private email server allowed Trump to disqualify her.

Clinton didn’t take the opportunity to run on the most progressive Democratic platform in modern history. And the Clinton’s history of supporting job-killing free trade deals and financial deregulation gave her no credibility as a fighter for the economic interests of the working class. She ran as the embodiment of corrupt elites and voters rejected her for Trump.

Neo-liberal Clintonism and corrupt elites have dominating the Democratic Party for the past 25 years inevitably led to Donald Trump. These forces need to be marginalized in the Democratic Party and replaced by a politics that honestly speaks to the real grievances of the working class, which hasn’t seen much of a raise in 30 years and who believes their children will be the first generation of Americans to have a worse life than their parents.

The Democratic Party needs a drastic overhaul. It needs to transform from an organization largely dedicated to raising money from corporations and billionaires to a mass popular party. It needs a party chair dedicated to that effort and a 50-state strategy.

It’s being taken as a fait accompli that the next Democratic Senate minority leader will be the senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer. The person filling that role will be the most powerful national leader of the Democratic Party. Schumer is constitutionally the wrong man to be the public face of a revitalized Democratic Party. The progressive wing of Senatorial Democrats should mount a challenge.

And, with all of the branches of the federal government in Republican hands, Senate Democrats needs to follow as strong a scorched-earth policy to block President Trump and the Republican agenda as Mitch McConnell and his cohorts followed against President Obama. They need to use every trick in the Senate rules, including the filibuster, to block things like the repeal of Obamacare and the appointment of extreme right-wing Supreme Court justices.

Politics ain’t beanbag. This isn’t the time for a fake honeymoon. It’s a time for progressives and Democrats to fight back with every weapon in their arsenal.

As Martin Luther King said, “We Shall Overcome, because the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

As union organizer Joe Hill said, “Don’t mourn, organize.”

It’s time to resist, reorganize and revitalize.

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